Soil of Our Being

Soil of Our Being

On my bicycle ride into work this morning I stopped to take this picture. Nature is full of metaphors and I’m always particularly intrigued by fog. Today, I don’t have any main idea I want to write about in essay form but rather a collection of thoughts around what it means to be present—inspired by a foggy morning.

How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. ~ Annie Dillard

I’m convinced that when we view life as a series of ends that we hope to meet, our way of being is at risk. Life is the sum of trillions of present moments. Too much emphasis on an end, a goal, or an accomplishment can rob us of the present moment and result in the expenditure of our vital energies toward something that doesn’t even exist—and may never exist. This isn’t to say that we don’t have bad days or unpleasant moments, or that we shouldn’t consider the future; but rather, a reminder that today is part of the grand collage of life. Our life is the cumulation of days lived.

The past is but an echo, a ripple, of what currently is. We don’t move away from the past; the past moves away from us as a fog of present moments previously lived.

How you are today is how you will have been tomorrow. To echo Annie Dillard, how we spend our present moments is how we spend our lives.

When we let the present moment become a means to an end, we may neglect a richer way of being in the world because our eyes are set on something else—like a person constantly looking past you while talking to you. I once saw an interview with a group of men and women in their 80s and 90s. Of the ones who had positive experiences with their parents, the main word they used to describe their parents was “kind”. Of course what we do in life matters and carries weight, but when my friends and family are living the last years of their life, the details of what I’ve done and said in my life will fade into an abstract fog and they may simply carry with them a vague sense of whether I was a kind person or not. You cannot accomplish kindness. You cannot buy kindness. You cannot earn a degree in kindness. You can only live it moment by moment.

The future, like a dense fog, is only visible so far before it becomes enveloped in the unknown.

The future is not a railway, but a matrix of possibilities and potential.

A meaningful life does not lie in a set of things or circumstances up ahead, it lies in the depth of this present moment, and every present moment that follows. The soil of our being is where all life stems from. By properly attending to it we can have a greater hope of bearing rich and meaningful fruit. The soil of our life is this present moment.

Tend to it well.


Photo by Lance Baker

3 Comments

  • Lesley-Anne Evans

    November 17, 2016 at 2:48 pm Reply

    Thank you. I sense these words need to take root in me a little deeper today upon reading here, as the last few days have been overwrought and over-run with myriads of paths and trails I felt convinced I needed to figure out and step toward! How easily we loose sight of what is right in front of us, what is right under our feet. Perhaps I will go dig in the earth…enjoy the moments of placing bulbs underground and forgetting about them. And in the spring I will be surprised to see them emerging…I always am. Thank you, dear writer. Thank you.

  • Lance Baker

    November 23, 2016 at 9:35 am Reply

    You and me both! There is a great line that I read recently (I don’t have the reference handy) but it talked about only steering the boat to the next bend in the river, and no further. It is a bit of doing what you can with what you can see; and a bit of trusting that the river is also taking you somewhere at the same time.

  • Beyond the Containers | Quiet Pilgrim

    November 29, 2016 at 3:05 am Reply

    […] bag their produce, think of their families, and plan meals for the week. The food is part of the soil of their being that provides the richness from which the real abundance of life can grow and bear […]

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